So college football season is back and Week 1 is in the books.
Although there were no big upsets last week (Cincy’s thumping of Pitt last night made Youngstown State’s win over the Panthers on Saturday look decidedly less shocking), remember the cardinal rule: never bet Week 1. My limited-confidence advice to a friend on Alabama and Ohio sure looked good; NC State and South Carolina, well, not so much. Just remember kids, whether you are playing with money from good old Mom and Dad, or the cash that should be going to those monthly student loan payments, see what these teams have before placing your bets. If you want to gamble on random chance, then go around the corner to the nearest dice game or head to Vegas/AC and make a beeline to the baccarat table. Without further adieu, here are this week’s picks (home team in ALL CAPS).
12 PM – #21 KANSAS STATE (-7) over Miami (FL)
An interesting one to start off the week. Duke Johnson was amazing last week for the Hurricanes. Meanwhile, the Wildcats sleep walked through much of their matchup against the school formerly known as Southwest Missouri State. You gotta think Bill Snyder gave his boys a stern lesson in practice this week. Plus, Miami was sweating it out against Boston College, who is looking at a long season in Chestnut Hill (sorry, Coach Spaz). Collin Klein will show up in a big way for the Cats, and the Canes will be exposed for their leaky D and sub-par passing game. Add in the hell of being in the Little Apple with an early kickoff and the pick becomes even clearer.
Final Score: Kansas State Wildcats 35, Miami Hurricanes 17
12 PM – Penn State (+10) over VIRGINIAThe line on this one has been bet up since opening. A little too much for my liking (though the sharps in Vegas tend to know what they are doing). UVA’s offense was humming last week, but now they have to face an opponent with a pulse. That being said, they will have some success through the air against Ted Roof’s all blitz, all the time D (yo Ted: it only works when you have the right personnel ). The Nittany Lions will get enough production out of their own revamped offense to keep it close, but ultimately the Hoos will hold on for the victory in this one.
Final Score: Virginia Cavaliers 28, Penn State Nittany Lions 23
3:30 PM – #2 USC (-26) over Syracuse (at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands)
If Matt Barkley doesn’t win the Heisman this year, the culprit will be his teammate, Marqise Lee. Dude is off the chain. And news flash: Marqise is a true sophomore, so he will be sticking around embarrassing “student-athletes” next year as well. Has all the makings of a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner (Max Wittek will have no problems finding him). As for this game, Southern Cal was firing on all cylinders last week, including on defense, which hasn’t always been the case under Lane Kiffin. Expect to see a little more of the run game from the Trojans this week. The Cuse was entertaining in last week’s barnburner against Northwestern, but they have major problems on D and looked great offensively due in large part to Northwestern’s own defensive issue. The Men of Troy will crush the Orange(men), and the fans in Cardinal and Gold will enjoy a North Jersey night cap afterward.
Final Score: USC Trojans 45, Syracuse Orange 10
3:30 PM – Purdue (+14) over #22 NOTRE DAMENot gonna lie. I was somewhat impressed by the Irish last week. They have a silly deep backfield (but not the deepest, read on for the answer to that one), and Everett Golson looked nothing like a kid taking his first collegiate snaps. That being said, Purdue played a great game itself (sans the turnovers) against the Washington Generals, err I mean Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Notre Dame has some tough sledding ahead on its schedule. I am not saying they are going to be looking ahead to next week’s big matchup against Michigan State, but I will go out on a limb and say the Irish will refrain from pulling out all the stops. The Boilers aren’t going to win this one, but they hang around until the end in South Bend.
Final Score: Notre Dame Fighting Irish 32, Purdue Boilermakers 21
3:30 PM – #24 Florida (-1) over TEXAS A&M
The Aggies will have the 12th Man at its most passionate for its first game in the SEC. Unfortunately new head man Kevin Sumlin probably wishes his planned debut game against Louisiana Tech wasn’t washed out by Hurricane Isaac. The Gators will bring their “A” game to College Station after underwhelming everyone against Bowling Green. Will Muschamp supposedly had Brent Pease play it close to the vest last week and forced his guys to show their toughness. Here’s thinking that UF will pull out all the stops offensively this week, perhaps even showing that they can throw the ball. The difference in this one, however, will be the Gators superior defense. Sharrif Floyd will be a menace in the middle and will force a fumble before the day is done.
Final Score: Florida Gators 28, Texas A&M Aggies 17
4 PM – #13 Wisconsin (-7) over OREGON STATEThe Beavers opener was another Hurricane Isaac casualty, as the Colonels of Nichols State had other things to worry about in Tibodaux. The Badgers, meanwhile, went through the motions last week against Northern Iowa and that nearly lead to disaster. Wisconsin head man Bret Bielema will get a full effort out of his team in Corvallis. Bielema isn’t afraid to run up the score when defenses refuse to tackle and isn’t shy talking about it, either. In fact, he has inherited the crown from Bobby Bowden as the King of Running Up the Score. Although Oregon State has had Saturday circled on their calendar all summer long, this one won’t be pretty. Montee Ball will fire up the Winnebago for his Heisman campaign, and the Badgers will hang half a hundred on the scoreboard on the road.
Final Score: Wisconsin Badgers 52, Oregon State Beavers 28
7 PM – Washington (+24) over #3 LSU
If there is one certainty in college football, Death Valley will be loud for a Saturday night game (and the chance of rain is...never http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqKthXGYAOQ&feature=fvwrel). Although Tyrann Mathieu isn’t suiting up for the Bayou Bengals this season, it won’t matter in this one (or perhaps any game on their schedule that doesn’t read “Alabama”). Not when you have the best defensive line in the country. Not when you have a four-headed monster at RB (Mike Shanahan, eat your heart out). And not when you have Ben Roethlisberger 2.0 as the trigger man. Despite all this LSU love, Coach Sark is doing a good job at UW, and the Huskies will muster enough offense and get a late score to cover.
Final Score: LSU Tigers 42, Washington Huskies 21
7:30 PM – #16 Nebraska (-5.5) over UCLATaylor Martinez learned to pass this summer. That means the Huskers are going to be very dangerous this year. While Johnathan Franklin ran over the Rice Owls last Thursday, he is gonna face some resistance from the Blackshirts. Brett Hundley will have to show off his arm for the Bruins, and although he has a lot of potential, everyone will know he is a freshman on Saturday. Even if they are without Rex Burkhead, Big Red will cover comfortably in Pasadena.
Final Score: Nebraska Cornhuskers 37, UCLA Bruins 17
7:45 PM – #7 Georgia (-2) over MISSOURI
This one has lots of shades of the other SEC debut. The Dawgs were not impressive in their opener against Buffalo, while the Tigers ran over Southeastern Louisiana. For UGA, Todd Gurley will prove last week wasn’t a fluke and Aaron Murray will back up his preseason hype. Although James Franklin will put up solid stats for Mizzou, the Georgia D will let him know that racking up video game numbers won’t be so easy in the SEC.
Final Score: Georgia Bulldogs 27, Missouri Tigers 20
10:30 PM – ARIZONA (+10.5) over #18 Oklahoma StateThis one has the makings of a great game. It will be a track meet. Both teams can put points up in a hurry. The Pokes freshman phenom QB Wes Lunt looked good in limited action against Savannah State in last week’s 84-0 laugher. Unfortunately for young Wes, he will through the 1st incompletion of his college career Saturday night. OK State has more talent and that will be the difference in a game that could come down to who has the ball last.
Final Score: Oklahoma State Cowboys 45, Arizona Wildcats 41
Bonus Pick: 6 PM – #6 FLORIDA STATE (-70.5) over Savannah State
Listen. The Noles could cover this spread easily if their starters played the whole game. The question is: how early will Jimbo Fisher call of the dogs? My guess is that FSU will break 50 by early in the 3rd, and their 3’s won’t have an problems against the Tigers when they get in there.
Final Score: Florida State Seminoles 76, Savannah State Tigers 0